The National Women's Hockey League, an upstart professional league, held a launch event on Monday night in New York City, announcing some details for their first year. Four teams -- the Boston Pride, Connecticut Whale, New York Riveters and Buffalo Beauts -- will play this fall.
The league plans on kicking off its 2015-16 inaugural season on October 17, according to an announcement made Monday night and a press release that hit my inbox a second ago. They'll call their championship trophy the Isobel Cup, named after the daughter of Lord Stanley, Lady Isobel Stanley, who the league says was one of the first women to play hockey.
The league also has what they call a "statement of support" from the NHL ... but that shouldn't be confused with actual support from the NHL. Here's that statement, as shared by NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan.
"The National Hockey League supports the growth of women's hockey at all levels. We wish the NWHL well as it presents the women's game to a larger audience, provides outstanding female athletes an additional opportunity to compete at the professional level and inspires girls and women to strive for hockey excellence."
As Zoe Hayden points out at Stanley Cup of Chowder, there are still few answers to a lot of pressing questions about the league. Who's paying? The other women's hockey league in existence, the Canadian Women's Hockey League, doesn't pay its players. We're still not exactly sure what the financial strategy of the NWHL will be. Who's playing? There's another women's league out there. Who leaves to join this new venture? What's going on with the Boston franchise and the conflict with the CWHL's Boston Blades? There are still lots of questions lingering.
Here's the NWHL's full press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: New York, NY - April 14, 2015: Last night at the NWHL (National Women's Hockey League) launch celebration event at Chelsea Piers in New York City, Founder and Commissioner Dani Rylan read a statement of support for the NWHL from the National Hockey League.
Rylan shared the following from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: "The National Hockey League supports the growth of women's hockey at all levels. We wish the NWHL well as it presents the women's game to a larger audience, provides outstanding female athletes an additional opportunity to compete at the professional level and inspires girls and women to strive for hockey excellence."
Additionally, timed to the kick-off of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, the NWHL announced its league trophy would be called The Isobel Cup. The trophy is named after Lord Stanley's daughter, Lady Isobel Stanley, one of the first women to play the game of hockey. Lady Isobel shared her love and passion for ice hockey with her father Lord Stanley and was instrumental in convincing him to create the Stanley Cup, one of the most storied trophies in professional sports.
The NWHL will begin its regular season on October 17, 2015 and playoffs will conclude in March 2015 when the first NWHL championship team will raise the Isobel Cup.